So, what did I learn this week?
I learnt that we might be short of parsnips for Christmas. It is due to inclement weather at planting time and through the growing stages. Or, in other words, all year. This is a refreshing change from it being the fault of Covid or the war in Ukraine. I also learnt that glasshouse producers are shutting down production because they can’t afford to heat and light the crops. If I was producing something that needed lots of electricity I like to think that I would have solar power or a windmill by now. Half of me says that if they haven’t already thought of that they deserve to go out of business, so they probably did. You have to wonder if this has more to do with restricting supply to make the supermarkets pay more. I’m ambivalent on that.
I like cheap food and I like the ability to buy food out of season. I also like being able to eat tomatoes and cucumber with my lunch, as it cuts down on bread and gives me a selection of nutrients. On the other hand, I could eat carrot sticks. Or eat less. Supermarkets do take the mickey when they are buying from farmers and I would like to have a planet left to leave to my kids. If this means cutting down on hothouse crops, going seasonal and paying more for food then it’s a price worth paying.
I also found out that in the UK we are losing food due to labour shortages. I may get a bit political from here. I voted to stay in the EU. It isn’t perfect, but I think life inside the EU is marginally better than life outside it. Most of this can’t be quantified, but food lost by labour shortages can be.
I’m also intrigued by the fact that we have more job vacancies in the UK than we have unemployed people. I’m sure there will never be a perfect solution but it does strike me that we could improve on the way we are doing things now. The trouble is that if you have vacancies for rocket scientists and are only capable of educating social media influencers there will always be a mismatch. On the other hand, if you need people to work in fields picking fruit and veg, even a social media influencer should have the brain cells for that. They may not have the motivation, but being paid piecework will sort that out.
Also, as a radical solution, if people have the drive to travel half-way round the world and cross the Channel in a rubber boat, they would probably welcome the chance to work. We could even set up an exchange system. We will take refugees and export social media influencers. I know which I’d rather have. Scripted reality TV shows may find itself a little short of self-publicising airheads but that’s one labour shortage I’d be happy to see. I loved the Gary Oldman quote inn that link, describing reality TV as “the museum of social decay”. Oh yes!